It’s another Independence Day. Time to celebrate where we have come so far and to remind ourselves of the roads ahead.
Independence Day is quite often considered as a time to display our nationalistic fervor. We exhibit our nationalism by waving flags or raising flags, distributing sweets and wishing each other. We also exchange emails that say we should take pride in our country etcetera but I wonder if that is what it is all about – an exhibition.
I have asked this question myself – am I proud of my country? I am. I am proud of all the good things and good people we have here. But at the same time I am ashamed of all the bad things and bad people and a bad system that we have in this country. And I think patriotism is not about feeling superior or inferior to any other countries in this world. Plainly put, it is about belonging here.
But just because I feel that I belong no where else in the world but here, it doesn’t mean that I would ridicule any other Indian who doesn’t feel like belonging here and find that sense of belonging elsewhere. I wouldn’t call him/her unpatriotic. Because their feeling of being alienated in their own country pauses a question before ourselves. What is it that makes them feel that way, though they have lived all their lives in this same soil? What makes them feel India is worse for them and perhaps there is a better place in the world than India? What makes them feel that they are secondary citizens in their own country? What makes them feel that democracy and politics are a softened form of the old colonial system? These are the questions that we should ask ourselves and to our society. And it would open up our eyes to see the nation in a different light. Through others’ eyes, and see what went wrong and where. It’s a long process. Seeing it, identifying it, talking about it, getting others to engage with it, making a movement, pressuring authorities to do something about it and thus finally making the change – however small or big it is. In this long process, often people would call you names – “un-patriotic“, “pseudo-nationalist“, “pseudo-secularist“, “anti-development” and what not. Let none of that make you feel down. Keep working your way.
I have high hopes for my country even through all the idiocy and the hopelessness it gives me at times. I think many things have changed for good from the way it was several years ago, thanks to the continued efforts of change makers from grass-root level. I am sure things will continue to improve as many selfless people work towards it even when they are being ridiculed by their fellow countrymen. And I don’t feel inferior of my country when I compare the situation here with other countries that have a more liberal, inclusive and better system in place. Because it did not happen for them on one fine day. It took many brave souls and a long process there too, perhaps the time they took for such changes was shorter.
So here is my humble tribute to those martyrs. To those who were shot at for speaking against the oppressors. Those who were jailed. Those who were beaten or hanged for voicing out. And to those freedom fighters of our times. Many of them, unknown to us. Those who work on to make India a better and better place. Those who work on several issues – dalit, tribal/adivasis, marginalized and economically backward communities, women, sexual minorities, health care, domestic violence, political violence, terrorism, religious extremism, justice, corporate crimes, environment and so on.
To all those brave souls, I dedicate my song…
Song: Vande Mataram 2010
Composed, lead & harmony vocals by: Joseph Thomas (Jo)
Download “Vande Mataram 2010” MP3 file here (3.58 MB)